This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
First loves are always the same and always different. The audacity of director Abdellatif Kechiche's "Blue Is The Warmest Color" lies not so much in the fact that it tells the story of a same-sex first love than in that it tells this story in what some would consider epic detail. The cockeyed open-heartedness of Kechiche's conception yields a girl-meets-girl-and-so-on story of three hours. They aren't hours that fly by, either, nor are they meant to; Kechiche, who as it happens is here adapting a graphic novel by Julie Maroh, intends for his viewers to luxuriate and/or empathize in and on particular details. While there have been plenty of movie romances not unlike this, there's never been one told in such an ambitiously immersive way.
First Kechiche throws the viewer into the world of Adèle (Adèle Exarchopolous), a wide-eyed high-school beauty who should, by the standards of her classmates, be wowing the boys, but instead almost breaks the heart of the one fellow she experimentally dates. Feeling no spark with him, or any other guys, she fixates on a blue-haired older girl she sees on the streets of her provincial French town. And once Adèle really finds Emma (Léa Seydoux), in a lesbian bar, it's not long before the student and the soon-to-be artiste begin having intense, soul-searching conversations on a soon-to-be-iconic (for Adele) park bench.
Soon after that they're discovering each other's keys to sensual ecstasy, in the movie's already much-talked-about sex scenes. Kechiche has a sense of rapture that extends to all the human senses; Adèle and Emma, in the first throes of romance, eat as much, and as ravenously, as they make love, and there's particular attention given to Emma teaching Adèle how to appreciate oysters. (There are echoes here, oddly enough, of Claude Chabrol's little-seen 1990 adaptation of Henry Miller's "Quiet Days In Clichy," starring Andrew McCarthy.)
The movie's transportive quality lies almost entirely with its lead actresses. They are committed to their roles to a degree that could be called exuberant. Neither gives off the slightest hint of working to achieve or inhabit an emotional effect. As the two lovers go, inevitably, out of the state of white-hot attraction and voraciousness and into a domesticity that presents the typical, and typically ugly, problems that an acolyte/ingénue arrangement presents, Adèle seems to grow up before the viewer's eyes in a way that makes Emma's self-possessed confidence look kind of complacent.